Zentangle for Beginners Unleash Your Creativity With Zentangle Art, Patterns, and Shapes
Table of Contents
Table of Contents Introduction What is Zentangle? The Story Behind Zentangle Zentangle Theory Wondrous Use Designs and Patterns Conclusion
Introduction Zentangle is an artistic and meditative method developed by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Among the many advantages of this art which will be discussed later in this book, zentangle is a great activity for beginners and those who shy away from any kind of drawings and want to take the first step. This is because anything you draw will come from within you. There is no right or wrong in Zentangle and thus, there is no such thing as mistakes or failure. Zentangles are just as much about the process as they are about the outcome. Thank you for taking the time to read this book. By the time you are finished reading, you will be able to relate t0 this on a much deeper level and will be wanting to create a Zentangle as soon as you can. Practicing the zentangle method will not only help you unleash your creativity, it will take you on a journey towards inner peace. The zentangle method does not only unlock your creative thinking, it also strengthens many other mental faculties. It will help you disentangle yourself from the chaos and nonstop stress of your everyday routine and approach life in a much more calm and effective manner. It will show you how your every action, every move is another stroke in the grand painting of your life and how not being able to change it is one of the most wonderful gifts that you could be given. For professionals frequently finding themselves under a lot of stress, Zentangles will allow you to break those shackles of anxiety, stress, loss of temper and any other negative habits you have developed in response to your stressful life. In a very short amount of time (only about 15 minutes), it will help you pick yourself up and give yourself a powerful emotional boost of experiencing success in something you previously though impossible. For students and researchers, it opens up so many different paths and lines of thought that you may surprise yourself. You will not be focused on the end goal, but only the means you have at your disposal as of today. It will remove the fear of the unknown and the expectation of chaos that comes with that fear. It will free your thought process to a degree you never before thought possible. It will help you relax and achieve a meditative state which will ultimately allow you to achieve a clarity of thought that will feel freeing and empowering. If you are unsure how drawing a few simple patterns can accomplish all of this, read on to see just what the zentangle method is all about.
What is Zentangle?
Almost all of us have doodled some time or the other, right? Somehow, when we are engrossed in something or are deep in thought, and we have a pen and a paper handy, we don’t even realize what we draw. That is doodling. It’s done on a subconscious level. It is an absent-minded process. And people often mistake the Zentangle art for a kind of doodling. However, there are some important differences between zentangles and doodles or any kind of ‘drawing.’ It’s not just the style or technique. The philosophy and process which the zentangle method is founded on make it a far more powerful experience than doodling. Zentangles are black and white miniature art pieces. They are abstract, unplanned, and are beautifully created through repeated structured patterns playing harmoniously together. As the zentangle slogan says, “Anything is possible, one stroke at a time”. The beauty of creating this art is the process one goes through to create it. In fact, the end result is not nearly as important as the journey to it. That is, the “zen” feeling you achieve while creating your zentangle is more important than what you are actually drawing. It is a form of ‘artistic meditation’. A person creating a Zentangle has to deliberately focus on each stroke of the pen. It gives a fluidity or flexibility to the pen as well as the thoughts. The best part about Zentangle is that the end result is not supposed to ‘be’ anything. There is no eraser and you don’t have to worry about mistakes. There is no right or wrong in Zentangle. You are drawing with no ultimate end goal in mind. If you start out drawing a pattern and make an unintended stroke, treat it as a happy accident, kind of an ‘a-ha’ moment allowing you to spontaneously create a new sort of pattern using that unintended stroke. Basically, you just glide through your thoughts with your pen. That is the reason it is such a refreshing and soothing combination of meditation and art. And just like any other meditation process, you need a ritual to reach the meditative state gradually. And the ritual for Zentangle involves a few basic steps. To create a zentangle, you will need just a couple basic materials to begin. A zentangle is usually created on a 3.5-inch (89 mm) square sheet of unlined, white paper. To draw, you should use a black ink pen. After years of research and practice, the inventors of this art have chosen a specific Italian paper and a particular kind of pen known as ‘Sakura’. More specifically, a Sakura Pigma Micron 001 (0.25 mm) in black. However, these are simply their recommendations. Many people make zentangles just by picking up any blank piece of paper and a pen and by following the Zentangle guidelines.
Zentangle begins with a free-form border drawn on the paper which provides an outer boundary, also known as the ‘frame’ and an inner design, known as the ‘string’. The border should be drawn just below the edge of the paper and should be done freehand (meaning, without a ruler). It is not meant to be perfectly straight. The string should be a simple, unguided line (or series of line) reaching from one side of the page to the other. Various patterns called ‘tangles’ fill this inner design resulting in an abstract piece of art with no specific orientation. The process of adding these tangle designs into your frame and along your string is intended to help you achieve a zen like feeling. Hence the name “zentangle.”
The Story Behind Zentangle On a sunny Saturday morning in the hamlet of Whitinsville in central Massachusetts, Maria Thomas, a veteran calligrapher was at work on an illuminated letter in her studio. Her husband, Rick Roberts entered the studio to find her completely focused working on the beautiful design pattern behind the letter. He observed that she seemed to be in a trance, peaceful in her own world. And when interrupted, it seemed as if she had just woken up fresh from a nap. She later explained to Rick how she experienced feelings of freedom, well-being, timelessness and complete focus with no thought or worry about anything else. Rick realized that she had just described meditation. Of course Rick could identify it immediately as he had previously lived as a monk in India for a while, before returning home to Massachusetts. When Rick and Maria discovered this feeling through a simple process of art they wanted to create a system for the world so that many others could enjoy the outcome of such a beautiful combination of art and meditation. And thus began the beautiful journey towards the invention of Zentangle. They say that he was the Zen, and she was the tangle. Together as life partners and business partners, they made what Zentangle is today – an art form with meditative patterns accessible to anyone and everyone to attain inner peace, contentment and a sense of well-being. The couple believes that anyone who can write already knows the strokes to create a single ‘tangle’ or a complete picture of Zentangle by using different patterns. They believe that everyone has an artistic side to them, which is often restricted or repressed by a lack of
confidence. And as Zentangle has no expectations or limitations, it is an ideal platform for each and every individual to find themselves. The internationally known couple has taught people to recognize patterns in their surroundings and use them as ‘tangles’ to create enjoyable experiences. Hundreds of thousands of practitioners around the world have claimed that the benefits from this experience is much more than its original expectations. The couple knew that their Zentangle concept would grow popular quickly and they even expected different arts and crafts to spur from this idea such as Zentangle Inspired Art (ZIA) or craft areas like jewelry and quilting. However, they did not know just how intense the therapeutic healing power could be for so many people around the world. The couple recently published their first book, ‘The Book of Zentangle’. They continue to work in this area for themselves as well as for the many zentangle practioners around the world. Rick says, “Just as Maria speaks of discovering new colors, I imagine developing new symbolic languages unconstrained by the too-tight shoes of words and learned presumptions of body/mind splits and classical world views.”
Zentangle Theory The Zentangle art form is by no means a difficult form of art. Many of us associate art with being a complex, highly-skilled activity. This is not the case with zentangles. It is also not something that will become monotonous or repetitive over time. In fact, the more zentangles you create, the more you will realize its wondrous benefits and the more interesting it will become. Below you will read more about the key philosophical principles and guidelines that make up the foundation of the zentangle method. Simplicity When you see a Zentangle art-piece for the first time, you might find it overly complicated and difficult. You might say that it is an intricate work of art done by a thoroughly trained professional. Well, guess what? That “professional” was just another person like you or me. Creating a Zentangle is not difficult. It is fun and enjoyable experience. When you create a Zentangle for the first time, you will feel as if you have solved an age-old mystery, unlocked a secret power or decoded a timeless myth.
This all takes just 15 or so minutes to accomplish. There is a Zentangle instructor who will take a group of people who are new to this art and when they are done with their first Zentangle, their Everest, he would tell them, “Just take a moment to think of some of the other things you know you cannot accomplish”. He would transfer that feeling of success to almost anything in life. He would instill in them the knowledge that anything is possible, just with a few strokes of your pen.
Transferring your subconscious to your conscious In your everyday activities, you are constantly creating the grand painting of your life. Anything that you do cannot be undone. Similarly, in creating a zentangle, you do not have an eraser to ‘undo’ what you have just drawn. Realizing this, every piece you draw, every line, every dash you make, you make it deliberately. Rather than moving toward one clearly defined goal, you are constantly taking the circumstances and materials available to create something beautiful and enjoyable. This is how one should also approach life. Zentangles teach you how to convert all your subconscious thoughts into conscious, deliberate strokes of your grand painting. As many wise ones say, “Life is an art and everyone an artist”. Zentangle just shows you how to use that fact. Intention and Deliberation When you start your Zentangle, no matter how hard you try, you start off with some semblance of your end product in your mind. But, as you move on, focusing only on the next line you draw, the next curve you make, the next turn and the next circle around, you lose the restriction imposed on your end product. Your mind becomes a beacon of unstoppable creativity. A fresh perspective, thoughts that would previously not enter your mind, all start flowing seamlessly. Now, you are focused in a way you never thought before. Focused on letting the creative juices flow, focused solely on the next element of your art that will improve it and not focused on whether you have an end goal in mind or whether you have deviated from it. All this leads to one ultimate conclusion, a picture you didn’t think of before. A place you might not have been at, had you let yourself be constrained by where you wanted to go. Almost always, when you follow the goal you had set yourself, you will find your Zentangle to be coarse, or dry, rough and not exactly what you wanted. Such is life too. There will be very few people who can proudly say “I am exactly where I planned to be” throughout their
lives, at every step. But there are many more who would happily say, “I never thought this is where life would bring me!” Limitless The fact that you do not have your end picture in mind, sets you free in a way you would never have experienced before. The boundaries of your picture dissolve to give way to a plethora of possibilities. This fact can be overwhelming for a few at first, but this is where Zentangle’s virtue of no correct or incorrect answer soothes the nerves. In Zentangle, you can never fail, no matter what you create. This is not because this is the rule of Zentangle but because Zentangle is an abstract form of art. It does not have a definite up or down, it is just a pattern. The picture does not represent something specific or real. This fact means that you are not constrained by the need for accuracy of representation. The picture just is what it is. This lack of boundaries or constraints can initially be similar to a feeling of being lost and alone in an unknown place. But soon, this very fear turns into a feeling of freedom and openness. Whatever you come up with at the end of those 15 minutes on that one Zentangle tile, is a piece of Zentangle art. It is your piece of Zentangle art. Portability A Zentangle tile is fairly small and portable because it is traditionally drawn on a 3.5 inch square sheet of paper. This is roughly equivalent to two credit cards put together side by side! This makes it easy to carry the required materials wherever you go. You can easily finish one tile in one sitting, spending as little as 15 minutes on it. And in those 15 minutes, you open new ways of thinking and new doors in your mind. You think and focus not in words or actions but in a flow of pictorial motions. You relax yourself while elevating your creative thought process. This is in part due to the lack of conventional methodology with Zentangle. You don’t have lanes and roads or barriers and doors. You just have a tile, your pen and unlimited potential. You can do this whenever you need that quick boost of accomplishment and success. A Zentangle tile is like a shot of motivation whenever and wherever you need it. Self-Reverence Your Zentangle is your own work of art. It is your thought and your pattern and in a way that represents you. Therefore, you treat your Zentangle as you would wish to treat yourself. Use the best materials you can afford, create your own environment, and make the creation of a zentangle your own unique ceremony. Let it always be celebratory and
spontaneous. Appreciate the beauty in the unexpected as well as the beauty in your unconscious thought process.
Wondrous Use Many people around the world benefit from and enjoy the zentangle method. Just to give you an insight on how much Zentangle can help you in your life, here are a few of its benefits. Art There is an artist within all of us. And there are so many who never allow this creative expression out. Zentangle is an excellent choice when you want to get an insight into your own creativity. A Zentangle tile is one place where you won’t get daunted by the blank space. As this is a ritual, with a step by step process, you will know exactly how to start, and once you reach the stage where you have to take initiative, you won’t even be aware of any worries. You will just need to be in tune with your heart and mind, and just create! Another thing about Zentangle which wipes out all worries is that there is no right or wrong, no upward or downward orientation, no mistakes, no erasers, and no expectation of the final result. Isn’t that just beautiful? To get a guideline how to make art and then having no expectations of the result! A Zentangle by an experienced artist and a Zentangle by an amateur fit right in together. Another reason people don’t pursue art sometimes is the financial constraints and lack of time. With zentangles, these are no longer concerns. Minimal investment and time is involved to create a zentangle. And there is a whole world out there you can learn from! You can look around you and you can find patterns and designs. And most importantly, you can look within yourself. All those doodles you were always comfortable with, be it boxes or random curves, or different shades, you can take all of that to another level consciously, and attain inner peace. And as you move forward with different experiences, you will feel your horizons expanding. There are many artists who have started enjoying Zentangle on different tiles, like a wooden heart or a ceramic sphere, and taken their art to a whole new level. Zentangle Inspired Art, popularly known as ZIA, is also another beautiful development from this original method.
Meditation Creating a zentangle is a meditative practice. The way it helps you focus and get in tune with your thoughts and your state of mind is just wonderful. There is no particular skill or outfit or location required to indulge in this meditation form. It is also great for different kinds of motivational and therapeutic purposes like boosting self-esteem; anger management; addiction therapy; stress management; attention deficit disorder; problem solving; stroke recovery; improving self-worth; and access to inner knowledge and guidance. It is ideal for people experiencing hardships in life. Zentangle is even taught in hospitals to help people recover from psychiatric and physical issues. Consider Zentangle as a yoga for your mind. And while you are creating a zentangle, you will feel the healing and curing powers. It is a pictorial language of patterns which opens new windows to thoughts and patterns which seemed blurred before. While creating Zentangles, you will have access to a whole new world of insights Education Zentangle is taught today in primary schools, high schools and even in colleges. This art has been associated with different areas of development like improved handwriting, better eye-hand coordination and problem solving. It also helps children to embrace their inner artist, which they didn’t even know existed. They tend to be creative and express themselves better with Zentangle. It helps boost confidence in children, while also helping them to focus and relax. There is also an increased cross-cultural understanding, as they use various designs and patterns from different areas of the world. Also, creating Zentangle art in a group spurs a lot of interesting discussion and knowledge transfer for the young as well as the elderly. Art Collectibles and Gifts We all know now that the process of Zentangle gives you peace and content, and the end result is never important. However, the beauty of Zentangle is, no matter what you create, and how you create it, the end result is always a beautiful artwork. It is a very thoughtful gift for someone to show how much you care by parting with one of your own creations. All your creations can be a valuable collection for yourself reminding you of the thought process you had, the state of mind you had achieved while creating those particular pieces of art. And the beauty of it is, you can revisit those memories whenever you want, and
reflect upon them to search for another aspect of your personality. They will be your personal treasures, inspiring you whenever you need that gentle nudge.
Designs and Patterns The creativity options and pattern combinations with Zentangle are boundless. If you can’t find a Certified Zentangle Teacher near you, you can always purchase a Zentangle kit complete with the necessary equipment and instructions. And if you want to indulge yourself in this world right away, here are a few basic steps for a start. The supplies you will need to Zentangle are: 1. Paper: As mentioned earlier, a Zentangle is created on a 3.5 inch x 3.5 inch (89 mm) square sheet of unlined, white paper. You can use any kind of paper you like but the higher the quality the better your zentangle will look in the end. 2. Pen: You will need a pen with black ink. The ideal pen to use for creating a zentangle is the Sakura Pigma Micron 001 (0.25 mm) in black. It can be found in a hobby or a craft store, or bought online. It is also usually available in Zentangle kits along with the rest of the supplies. However, you can really use any black ink pen you have available. 3. Pencil: You will need a pencil of any kind at the beginning to draw your border and string. And we all know, no eraser is required during the creation of Zentangle! Now, if you wish to create a meditative or a soothing environment, prepare the surroundings to your liking. You might want to put on some calming music that you enjoy, or light a candle with your favorite fragrance to create a relaxing atmosphere in which to create. The initial step towards the ‘tangle’ are: 1.
Draw four dots on each corner of the square paper using the pencil.
Now, connect all the four dots, making a square. Do not use a ruler. The border of
your zentangle is not meant to be perfectly straight. Any waves or crooked portions of your border will help to give it its own unique shape and characteristics.
3. Create the ‘string’ still using the pencil within the drawn square. Again, there are no rules for drawing the ‘string’, and no right or wrong shapes. It is created by freeform shapes and flowing motions which will define different spaces which you will fill with ‘tangles’. 4. Now, use your pen and start creating different patterns or ‘tangles’ in all the spaces created by the ‘string’. You can also move the tile in any position comfortable to you, as there is no upward or downward orientation. 5. After you are done with the whole picture, you can erase the penciled square and strings in the background or leave them. It is your choice. Shown below is a picture with the basic ‘string’ penciled on a square Zentangle tile.
When you take one look at a complete Zentangle tile, the tangles may look complicated. But there is no need to be worried about the designs or patterns used in any Zentangle art by anyone. You are here to create your own art. You will find that the tangles break down in simple strokes. Often, while trying to Zentangle, people who are experimenting for the first time tend to get stuck on their first ‘tangle’. There are some very simple tangle patterns shown here in the picture below (courtesy: www.squidoo.com). You can take ideas from them and start small, building up to your own designs.
There are almost 150 official tangle patterns from Rick and Maria. Many others have also come out with their own official patterns. Almost all patterns have fun and interesting names. And there are millions of patterns and designs available on the internet as well as in books. The designs used in this art are just recreated from all those patterns found in nature through so many centuries. They have grown by leaps and bounds even after so many original patterns created and officated by Rick and Maria. However, the most important designs are the ones you can find in the world all around you. You can even pick completely different and unrelated designs to combine and create interesting pieces of art. There is a whole plethora of shapes and designs out there to choose from. Of course, if there is a pattern you have in mind, and make a ‘mistake’, you will need to build on that mistake and incorporate it into your pattern. Soon you will have discovered an altogether a new pattern by yourself. Here is a picture of a completed tangle (courtesy: www.squidoo.com) to show you one possiblity of the final result of multiple tangles put together.
As you can see above in the Zentangle picture, there are not only many different designs, patterns and shades used, but also different kinds of shading done to enhance those patterns. Of course, this is strictly optional and up to you. The moment you start designing, you will feel the flow of the pen, your thoughts, and your state of mind all of which will come together to help determine what you create. We all know by now that Zentangle is a black- and- white art done with pen only. However, people have also started using different colors in their zentangles. They have also started using this method for jewelry designing and quilting. And many other materials instead of paper are used to create a different kind of art. Wood and ceramic are some of the most popular materials. All these variations are categorized as ‘Zentangle Inspired Art’ or ZIA. Some people also use each of their completed zentangles to add together and build up a large mosaic which they can proudly display.
Tangle Patterns for Beginners Making Zentangle artwork is not only about creating a beautiful piece of art (although that is a pretty great bonus!); it’s about creating a mood, a relaxed state of mind, and an improved sense of focus. With that in mind, it can seem difficult at the beginning to know what exactly to draw. It is one thing to read the instructions in the previous chapter. It is a whole other thing to actually get started with your very first zentangle. When you first begin, try out many different patterns and combine them in a variety of different ways. You can use this chapter (and the chapter that follows) in order to find inspiration and new ideas for your zentangles.
As you become more familiar with the techniques and the different patterns which are available, you will not need to reference this guide as often. You can simply draw the patterns which come naturally to you. When this occurs, making a zentangle will become even more therapeutic and beneficial as it will be directly dealing with your subconscious; allowing you to achieve calm and focus at the very deepest levels of your mind. Until now, you have read a lot of information about the theory, the benefits, the techniques and more relating to the art of making a zentangle. But a zentangle is just that: an art. It is highly visual. So in order to get a stronger, more intuitive sense about how to make a zentangle, the rest of this chapter will be devoted to showing you a variety of different patterns which you can use to create beautiful pieces of art. This chapter features the simpler patterns that exist, the ones which are easiest for beginners. Later on in Chapter five, you will learn about some more complex and advanced patterns which you can try if you are feeling up to it.
1. The Knight’s Bridge:
Step 1: Draw the outline (Note: The lines can be perfectly straight or you can make them as wavy or curvy as you like for a more interesting visual.)
Step 2: Fill in the spaces in alternating pattern so that between each colored in square, there is one blank square, as seen in the first image. (Note: alternatively, you can use a second color to fill in those squares which would otherwise be left blank).
2. The Gingham
Step 1: Draw your basic outline just as you would for the Knight’s Bridge above. Typically for the Gingham, the outline is straighter; however, you are, of course, free to make it wavier if you like. Step 2: Fill in alternate squares as you would for the Knight’s Bridge above. Step 3: In the remaining squares, draw a series of lines (as seen in the image). These can be in the same color or in a different color as the filled in squares. 3. The Printemps
Step 1: Draw a series of circles in varying sizes, beginning from one corner of the page and fanning outward.
Step 2: Fill in each of the circles with spirals and semi-complete circles (as seen above).
4. The Arc Flower
Step 1: Draw a large circle. In the center of the circle, draw a smaller circle like the spoke of a wheel.
Step 2: On the top and bottom sides of the circle at the center, draw 4 or 5 curved lines radiating outwards.
Step 3: Now that you have the first two “petals” complete; between them, draw two new petals, each with 4 or 5 curved lines radiating outwards.
Step 4: Continue this pattern until you have reached the outer edge of the circle. Then, in the empty spaces remaining at the edges between the “petals” and the outer edge, fill in with either the same or a different color.
5. The Onamato
Step 1: Draw your border or a series of crisscrossing borders.
Step 2: Draw a series of large circles along the inside of your border.
Step 3: Inside the thin space along each border, draw a series of smaller circles.
Step 4: In each corner where the larger circles meet, draw smaller circles and fill them in completely.
Step 5: Shade in the large circles to add depth to the pattern.
6. The Drobbles
Step 1: Draw your circles in varying sizes and in a scattered pattern as seen above.
Step 2: Draw a semi-circle inside your circle, ending it in a raindrop shaped loop.
Step 3: In the space where the loop ends, draw a small circle.
Step 4: Fill in the circle and the loop. You can leave an empty portion for added depth (as seen in the completed pattern above) or fill it in entirely, as you wish. Step 5 (Optional): Add embellishments around the edges as seen in the completed pattern above if you like. These are not part of the original pattern so you can add any sort of additions you wish.
7. The Eddies
Step 1: Draw a series of raindrops in a half circle.
Step 2: Draw smaller raindrop shapes continuing the circle so that they spiral inwards.
Step 3: Continue the spiral of raindrops until you have reached the center.
Step 4: At the large end of the raindrops, draw small half-moons.
Step 5: Color in the raindrops everywhere except for the half-moons.
8. The Hairy
Step 1: Draw a series of wavy lines branching out in various directions.
Step 2: Trace more lines along the edge of the ones you drew previously.
Step 3: Repeat step 2 again.
Step 4: Continue until that corner of the page is filled.
9. The Ennies
Step 1: Similar to the Eddies, draw a series of raindrops in a curved fashion as seen in the image above.
Step 2: Trace a complete, closed line along the inside of the raindrops you have drawn.
Step 3: Fill the inside of this center shape with many small circles.
Step 4: Lightly shade the circles around the edges of the shape.
Conclusion Zentangle might not be a mighty, age-old theory propagated by our ancestors, it might not be Grandma’s solution to stress and anxiety but it sure is trustworthy. It is currently being practiced by many people around the world who find creating zentangles to be a very rewarding experience. You can often find people who will tell you how this little known art form has transformed their lives. They cannot stop praising it once they start. It is an activity for almost for people of all ages from just about all backgrounds. One of the most appealing aspect of the zentangle method is that it is inexpensive and easy to get started. It is an art form that will get you through rough patches in your life. It will give you the motivational boost whenever you need it and for whatever purpose. It can be a very fun social activity, too. In fact, the community of ‘tanglers’ grows stronger with each passing day. Having realized the benefits first hand, this community is very supportive of this art. So now, give yourself the gift you deserve and start improving your life in more ways than you can imagine. Go create your first zentangle!
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